Books Reviews

Book Review: The Khan by Saima Mir

What’s The Book About?

Successful London lawyer Jia Khan is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father, Akbar Khan, led the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule – the old way – was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind.

Now, with her father murdered, Jia must return to take his place. The police have always relied on the Khan to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a bloody power struggle has broken out among warring communities and nobody is safe.

Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a cost.

The Review

I’m a huge fan of crime thrillers. I grew up reading James Patterson, David Baldacci and Robert Crais so I’m excited about Saima Mir’s debut in this scene! It’s great having a Muslim woman tackle this genre in an authentic and innovative way.

The opening chapter of The Khan was beautifully written and immediately grabbed my attention. The build up to the quote below was so well-done and painted the picture of a complex character straddling the fine line of a hero and a villain.

“And it was through this deep understanding of man’s struggle that Akbar Khan found himself supplying substances of all criminal classifications. And as he stood before the God of Abraham and Moses, of Jesus and of Muhammad, Akbar Khan felt his heart to be unblemished, because he knew he was providing for his people and fulfilling their needs.”

Unfortunately, the tension that captures your attention in the first section dissipates after Akbar Khan’s murder. Jia’s transition (Akbar Khan’s daughter and the protagonist) from a lawyer, albeit one that defends criminals, to the head of the Jirga lacked credibility. Jia is initially portrayed as a character vehemently against her father’s lifestyle and there’s a vivid sense of the cost and loss the family as experienced as a result. Suddenly, the character steps into her father’s shoes with little to no apprehension. Although the ending makes sense of this, it’s too long a wait. A good crime thriller also needs a strong villain and the villain here didn’t have enough depth for me.

However, when the book shines it’s a real page turner and the twist at the end will blow your mind!

Top Three Quotes

“A society that dishonours its women dishonours itself.”

“He was picking a fight with her the way one picks a scab. He didn’t really want it to bleed, he just wanted to know what was under it.”

“Violence has an interesting way of changing definition. When it’s used against us, you call it justice. When we utilise it, you call us criminals. There is no such thing as reverse racism. There is only a response to racism. This is not racist violence, this is violence born from rage of oppression, and it will happen again and again until you stop seeing us as the problem and you as the solution.”


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I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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